In keeping with the timeline laid out by Governor Jim Justice regarding the reemergence of business from COVID-19 lockdown, outgoing Morgantown City Manager Paul Brake said the city has tentative plans to reopen some of its services on May 18.
The information, shared during Tuesday’s Morgantown City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, received some pushback from members of council, and ultimately resulted in Councilor Zack Cruze disconnecting from the meeting, which was being held via video conferencing software.
Brake said the first city employees returning to work would do so with additional precautions, including Plexiglas partitions, additional space to maintain proper distancing and city-provided protective equipment.
Any public meetings held after May 18 can proceed with a limited number of individuals in the room, though it’s within council’s discretion to continue to meet via video conference.
Members of council, including Cruze, Barry Wendell and Jenny Selin, questioned some of the data Justice is using to reopen the state — particularly the validity of the 3% benchmark for cumulative percentage of positive test results and the actual number of West Virginians being tested.
Brake reiterated that the May 18 date is a tentative return date for a limited number of employees.
“Council is pushing back on you and saying, ‘We do not want this,’ and you’re saying, ‘Well, I hear what you’re saying,’ Cruze said, expressing his belief that council has lost the ability to communicate with Brake. “You’re going to do what you’re going to do. I think I’m leaving this call now.”
This is the second consecutive meeting in which Cruze has made similar comments to Brake, who will end his tenure with the city on May 14 for a position in Royal Oak, Mich.